Bespoke tours now available

At Kasu Tours, we understand that everyone is different and off-the-shelf tours may not suit you. That is why Kasu Tours is now inviting tour commissions: hand made itineraries that include the places you want to go and the experiences you would like to have.

With years of on-the-ground research, community connections and ethical guidelines for travelling in India, Kasu can work with you to co-design a tour of the less visited, niche, secret India.

For information on how to co-design your own tour of India, read more here >>>


I don’t like heat and crowds.

Many people comment to me that they don’t want to visit India because of the heat and the crowds.  Let me explain: I don’t like heat and crowds either.

That’s why I plan Kasu Tours for the northern Winter when the days are cool to mild – like our Spring.  For example, the average daily temperature for Rajasthan in January is 8 to 23 degrees Celsius and for Gujarat,  12 to 28 degrees.  In both places, the early mornings and nights can be quite cold.

I especially dislike being in a crowd of tourists competing to see an attraction. And although it can be stimulating to experience an Indian city for a few days, we soon get out of town to regional areas, small towns and villages where we are often the only vehicle on the road, or the only tourists in town.

Here are some of the roads we travel and places we visit:


Itinerary & cost for Rajasthan tour announced

The final itinerary and tour cost for The luxury Tour of the Lesser-known Rajasthan has now been published!

Click here for all the details >>>>

If you feel the urge to join this tour, be quick: we take a maximum of six guests.

Applications will be accepted in the order they are received.
Apply to join the tour here >>>

Please make sure you read the FAQ  and the TERMS & CONDITIONS pages.


Slow travel

What makes Kasu Tours different?

Our main point of difference is that we take a maximum of 6 guests.

  • We find that by keeping numbers small, we bond better as a group, becoming friends very quickly;
  • Low numbers allows us to stay in boutique hotels, family residences and havelis that can not accommodate larger groups;
  • Small numbers allow closer encounters with the people of India;
  • Each person in a small group gets more one-on-one attention from guides and in workshops.

    One-on-one attention at an embroidery workshop







We travel in our own private 12 seater bus:

  • there is plenty of room for everyone, and their luggage. And their shopping.  And boxes of food for picnics, and the cooler full of water;
  • Everyone gets a window seat;
  • Having our own private vehicle also means that there is no waiting around at airports, railway stations and bus terminals: more quality experiences every day;
  • It also means we are more flexible if we want to make a detour or unscheduled stops.

    Roadside chai stall

  • Unscheduled stops often means surprising encounters. For example, we stopped for chai with this chai wallah and ended up being invited by the villages on a tour of their temples.


We travel the less-travelled roads:

  • This means we spend less time in the bustling cities and more time exploring.
  • Traffic is different on the roads we travel – you might have to share the road with a nomad moving house with all her possessions atop a camel, an elephant being led somewhere, or a herder with his cattle or goats.

    Herder with cattle

  • Sometimes there is no traffic at all. Bliss.

We don’t rush (mostly):

  • You’re on holiday – you don’t want to rush from here to there. At Kasu Tours, we allow enough time for our guests to enjoy the days at a leisurely pace whilst packing in lots of sightseeing and activities.
  • Some days have scheduled rest or free time and some days are busy with activities. Guests can always opt out the action if they need more free time.
  • We stay in our accommodations for at least two nights and sometimes up to 4 or 5 nights in some places.

Outside the city, traffic is a little slower

A new tour!

Announcing a brand new tour for Kasu Tours:
January 2020

The final itinerary and cost will be published soon, but here is a taste of what is to come.
This time we explore the lesser-known regions of north west Rajasthan, staying in gorgeous former palaces and mansions. (Might have to dress up for dinner!)

The dining room of one of our hotels.

Our tour begins in Jaipur, known as ‘the pink city’ , the capital and the largest city of Rajasthan. We taketour with a local guide to visit some of the famous local monuments including Hawa Mahel, Jantar Mantar,  the Anokhi Museum,  Amber Fort and the Monkey Temple.
We also visit a sanctuary for retired working elephants in a nearby village where  we can get up close, feed and maybe paint their faces or help them bathe.  We also enjoy a traditional village meal with our hosts.

Leaving Jaipur in our private luxury bus, we head for an amazing step-well traditionally used to conserve and store water and for public baths. It was dug approximately 30 metres and 13 stories into the ground, making it one of the deepest and largest stepwells in India. Work began on this step-well in about 800AD and it was completed about 100 years later.

Our next destination is a town in the centre of the Shekhawati area where we spend five days exploring the region famous for its abandoned havelis (mansions) extensively painted with murals.

A painted haveli in Churu

This area was once a part of the silk road that extended from China to the Mediterranean. Merchants made their wealth sending their goods on camels along the silk road,  and built mansions, temples and step-wells, vying with each other in building ever more grand edifices. They commissioned artists to paint their homes as a sign of opulence, decorating both inside and outside with painted murals.  The area is now known as ‘the outdoor art gallery’.  The art of painting the havelis was kept alive for nearly 300 years. However, when shipping became available and a faster way of getting their goods to the world, the merchants abandoned the havelis and moved to Bombay or Kolkata.
We also enjoy a tour of local crafts and visit a local farm.

Junagarh Fort, Bikaner

Next we head to Bikaner, a  city surrounded by the Thar Desert. We will visit the 16th-century Junagarh Fort, a huge complex of ornate buildings and halls. Within the fort, the Prachina Museum displays traditional textiles and royal portraits.

Bikaner is also famous for miniature paintings and we will visit a third generation artist in his studio.

Whilst in the area, we visit a temple dedicated to Karni Mata (1387 – 1538)  a female Hindu warrior sage. She is worshiped as the incarnation of the warrior goddess Durga by her followers and is an official deity of the royal families of Jodhpur and Bikaner. She lived an ascetic life and was widely revered during her own lifetime.

Karni Mata Temple is also known as the Temple of Rats. The temple is famous for the approximately 25,000 black rats that live and are revered in the temple.
Legend has it that Laxman, son of Karni Mata, drowned in a pond in while he was attempting to drink from it. Karni Mata implored Yama, the god of death, to revive him. First refusing, Yama eventually relented, permitting Laxman and all of Karni Mata’s male children to be reincarnated as rats.

Some of the best fed rats in the world.

In front of the temple is a beautiful marble facade with solid silver doors. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum.
It is said that eating food that has been nibbled on by the rats is considered to be a high honour. But we won’t do that! For the squeamish, entering the Rat Temple is optional.

In the blue city

We continue our journey to the city of Jodhpur, historically the capital of the Kingdom of Marwar, which is now part of Rajasthan.
Set in the stark landscape of the Thar Desert, it is popularly known as Blue city for the preponderance of houses that are painted blue.

We take a heritage walk through the old walled city of Jodhpur, immerse ourselves in the bustling  bazaars and take a cooking lesson from husband and wife team Anil and Rekha.  We have dinner on our last night in Jodhpur overlooking a renovated step-well.

Our last destination on the tour is Bundi, often referred to as ‘the unexplored part of Rajasthan’. Bundi is rich in natural beauty as well as stunning architecture. It is known for its decorated  forts, palaces, and more than 50 step wells.  We will visit the highly ornate Raniji ki Baori (Queen’s Step-well) not far from our hotel – a boutique haveli in the heart of new city with views of the old town, palace, fort and lake.
If luck is with us, we may also be able to take in a Bollywood movie in the historic Ranjit Talkies Cinema Hall.

But the main destination of our visit to Bundi pre-dates all of the amazing architecture of the town:  pre-historic rock art, believed to be from the Mesolithic period dating back ten thousand years.  We will take a guided tour with Kukki, the man who discovered more than 75 sites in the area. An amateur archaeologist and grocery store owner, Kukki has been honoured by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) with the status of ‘honorary archaeologist’.

Bundi cave art

After Bundi, we return to Jaipur for the last day of the tour. There are options to visit more destinations, go shopping in the busy bazaar or rest up before departures the next day.

The full itinerary and cost will be published soon.
(This overview is correct at time of publishing. Some minor changes may occur and will be noted in the final itinerary)

If you are interested in joining this tour, please make contact soon as places are limited to six intrepid travellers.

See the roads we travel :





A tale of two torans

14 January 2019

We are visiting the village of the ladies who make Moti Bharat (bead work).
The women, whose ages seem to range from late teens to seventies, are seated on the floor of the verandah surrounded by their wares. Moti Bharat craft is the art of making household decorative items and and jewellery from tiny glass seed beads woven together to make either a flat fabric or to cover items like jars, gourds or constructed forms.

I have visited these ladies on a previous tour in 2017 and it is a pleasure to meet them again and introduce my guests to the fine work they produce.

On the last tour, I purchased a rather splendid toran (window or door decoration) from Naina who proudly displayed it for the camera.

Naina with the toran I bought from her in 2017

A demonstration of beading around an object.

A fringed toran 

On the most recent tour in January 2109, after perusing all the glittering wares spread before us, my eyes focused on another toran, which to me looked to be older than the rest of the work there. In my stilted hindi, I asked if this piece was old. My assessment was confirmed, and on enquiring after the maker, Benba was introduced to me.  A woman about my age (late 60s), she told me that this was a piece she made for her wedding dowry about 50 years ago.  Of course I bought it, as I was very pleased to give a new home to a genuine dowry piece.

What had alerted me to the age of the piece was the uneven sizes of the beads. New items are made with very regularly sized beads, which I’m guessing would make it a whole lot easier to weave the intricate patterns. In the detail images of Benba’s toran below, the different sizes of the beads can be seen, and the artful way in which Benba has used them in order to keep the weaving as flat as possible.

Detail of Benba’s toran showing the uneven sizes of the beads

Benba with her dowry toran. Other torans can be seen hanging in the doors and windows in the background.

Now, as I write this blog and looking closely at the image of Naina with her much more recent toran, I notice that the pattern is exactly the same as Benba’s piece.

This raises some questions:
Is this a traditional pattern which is regularly used by  the artisans?
Is this perhaps a family design and Naina is related to Benba, carrying on the traditional pattern?
Has Naina recognised a great design and is honouring Benba by reproducing it?

I guess I’ll have to ask those questions on my next trip to the lovely quiet village of the bead weavers.

Naina in 2019

The front yard of the house of the bead weavers.

In Bhuj

Our base in Bhuj was the wonderful Bhuj House, a traditional Parsi courtyard house.
Built in the late 1800’s, it has stayed in the family through seven generations of the Bhujwala family. It was damaged in the devastating Bhuj earthquake of 2001, but the family have lovingly restored the house, opening it as a delightful heritage homestay.

Courtyard of The Bhuj House with spiral staircase leading to the upstairs bedrooms.

The open pantry kitchen in the middle of the courtyard

Guest rooms facing onto the courtyard

More guest rooms

My guests on the Cloth & Stone Tour enjoying some winter sunshine on the antique jhulla (swing) in the courtyard.

The kitchen where magic happens

Another jhulla in the living room positioned to catch breezes from the doors, plus a great spot for the cat.

These is still a lot of evidence of the 2001 earthquake when more than 20,000 people lost their lives.

Earthquake damaged pieces of the old palace waiting to be restored to their proper places.

The magnificent balconies on the damaged 17th century palace buildings are now roosts for pigeons

Bhuj was our base to explore the local market, the old city and some local artisans. It is also central to other villages where we visited more artisans, museums and  organisations supporting the traditional crafts of the area.

Kathy explores Ram Kund – the old stepwell hidden away between houses and temples.

Old embroidered textiles in a tiny shop in the Shroff bazaar, Bhuj

Naran Chauhan is a metal craftsman. Originally his family made swords for the royal family, but the patronage has gone and now he makes knives, jewellery and buttons of his own design and also to order from other designers


Master weaver Tejshi at Kukma village is an award winning craftsman. He weaves the history of his village into his rugs from camel and sheep wool.

Yarn dyed with natural dyes by Tejshi at Kukma village

Age old tool designs are still in use by the weavers at Kumar village

Heading south

Heading south from Ahmedabad for more adventures, our first stop was the Indus Valley Civilisation (aka Harappan civilisation) ruined city of Lothal.
Thought to be about 4500 years old, the site is protected by the Archaeolgical Survey of India. Adjacent to the ruins is a modest museum housing artefacts found at the site.
It costs R5/- (about AU$0.10) to gain access to the museum, but nothing to wander about the ancient city.

Drainage system at Lothal

Catherine and Jane inspecting the ancient harbour built from bricks.

The bead kiln

The Harappans were the first to formalise brick dimensions as well as firing them to high temperatures, making it possible to create straight walls and long lasting structures.

The museum has a wonderful collection of artefactsincluding toys, beads made from clay, stone and shell, pottery, a double burial and tools.

Toy oxen cart

Painted pottery shard

Clay toy figure

Beads made from semi-precious stones

Various terra cotta pots

Leaving the city: a trip to Patan

We left the dust and noise and crazy traffic of the city behind on Sunday with a day trip to Patan, Gujarat’s old capital, now a rambling dusty town. But there are threee major attractions for history and textile lovers: The Sun Temple at Modhera, near Patan, Patan Patola Museum and Rani ki Van (the Queen’s Step Well).
Our 12 seater bus was due to pick us up at our hotel at 8:30, but it had mechanical problems, so they sent a 20 seater instead…. a ridiculously over-sized vehicle for three passengers!  We hadn’t yet left the city when the driver suddenly pulled over to the side of the road, picked up some grasses from a man with a table full of it and started feeding some cattle over the fence. Puzzled, I asked if these were his cows… yes – he keeps them in this paddock and stops by to hand feed them this long green fodder when he can.
A long, noisy, bumpy ride north through the outskirts of Ahmedabad city eventually led to a highway, and after about two hours, we pulled into the parking lot of the Sun Temple. Once through the ticket office, the temple complex is set in manicured gardens with feather-tailed squirrels darting about in the late winter sunshine. The weather has been very pleasant, hovering about 27 degrees, with cool breezes: perfect for travel and sight-seeing.
I wrote another post about the Sun Temple here >>> where you will find more information, so I will just post some pics here.

Sun Temple

Ceiling detail, Sabha Mandap at Sun Templ

Leaving the beautiful 11th century temple complex behind, we headed into Patan to visit the the Patan Patola (double kat weaving) Museum – the product of 35 generations of the Salvi family going back to the 11th century.
For those who are not familiar with double ikat weaving, the process is an extremely complicated one. First the silk warp and weft threads are tied separately with cotton thread on the sections  marked out according to the proposed design. This tying process will protect the thread from taking up the dye. After dying, more sections are tied & different shades of colour are produced in this manner. It is not until all the threads on warp and weft are coloured to the desired design that the weaving begins and the final design is realised. I cannot imagine how much skill and training this process demands!

A Patan Patola sari – the pattern is created by dying both warp and weft threads in intricate patterns before weaving the two together

Because it is so specialised and difficult a technique, the Patan Patola is highly prized, with a simple sari costing about  1.5 lakh rupees, (about AU$150,000), and more as the intricacy increases, and each sari takes four to six months to weave if two people work on it five days a week.

Detail of the tied threads ready to be dyed




After a great night’s sleep in my luxurious palace bedroom with beds so high, a footstool is provided, and bathroom as big as my living room, I was ready to face a day of research in the Shekawati area of northern Rajasthan.
My driver, Bhajirath (Bhaji for short) was proving to be a great companion – thoughtful, funny, informative.  Also a great one for the selfie – a form of photography I normally spurn, but when in India…..

Bhaji & I chumming it up for a selfie

We left the palace after breakfast to explore the area famous for the abandoned havelis (mansions) built by rich merchants when the Silk Road passed through Rajasthan. The traders competed with each other to build grander and more elaborate havelis, temples and stepwells, only to abandon them, and the camel trains, when shipping out of Kolkata became a faster option to get their goods to the world.
The havelis are famous for the painted murals inside and out. Many are in disrepair, some are renovated and turned into hotels or restaurants, others lie in pieces waiting to be sold off for someone to reconstruct or create their own haveli.

Painted haveli

Miniature portraits in the doorway of a haveli

Faded glory

Haveli graveyard

Spare parts

Shelves full of antique artefacts

I was also on the lookout for old beads and jewellery & my search took me to a trader in the bazaar – now a deserted place with a few guys and dogs passing the time in the shade of ancient trees.  I was the only foreigner there. Kishore had taken over some subterranean tunnels with steep stone steps leading down to his collections of antiques collected from the abandoned havelis. Originally the food cellars of a haveli, these tunnels have no electricity, so browsing is done by torchlight.
One 300 year old dhola (I think this was the name) – bucket, begged me to take it home with me, and my resolve neither to add weight to my luggage nor lighten my bank account dissolved  as I admired the work of the tradesman who hammered out this metal, riveted it together, fashioned into the elegant bulbous shape & finished it off with a wrought handle with swivel. It was originally used to fetch water from a well. Now it will find a new home in Australia.

Getting out of town

It was always going to be a long and tiring day, but I didn’t realise how long and how tiring it would turn out to be. I left Castlemaine at 7pm by train to Melbourne, a quick catch up with my daughter, SkyBus to the airport for the 1:10am flight to Mumbai via Singapore.
I was counting on the complementary champagne and extra leg room in my modest upgrade to Premium Economy to provide the sleep I needed to keep me functional for the long flights and the following two days of travel.
The best laid plans were undone by an extraordinarily uncomfortable seat (wondered why I bothered with an upgrade), and with food being offered at ungodly times of the night, a crying baby behind and flickering screens all around, sleep was hard to achieve.
The wakefulness was interrupted by the stopover in Singapore where I paired up with Jeanette from Mumbai, returning to India after visiting her family in Australia. Changi terminal is so vast, that by the time we had found our way to the correct departure gate & lots of chats, it was soon time to board again with renewed hope of some sleep.
The second leg of the journey held more disappointment: more food, noise cancelling headphones that only slightly muffled the unhappy child but managed to magnify the crew’s announcements to a deafening level of decibels, and a screen that refused to go dark all conspired to keep me in an annoyingly wakeful state.
However, I was seated next to Richard, an Australian CEO of an Indian company returning to work after the Christmas break. Interesting chats ensued and he told me of his company’s charitable work in the Dhiravi slum in Mumbai, which, according to Wikipedia, is considered one of the largest slums in Asia. With an area of just over 2.1 square kilometres and a population of about 700,000 making it one of the most densely populated  areas in the world. He also told me about Reality Tours who run tours in the slum, the proceeds from which provide amenities to the slum community.  (I have just booked a tour for my last day in India). Although nearly sleepless (I think I snatched about an hour of shuteye somewhere), the time was spent pleasantly until touchdown in Mumbai at 10:30 local time, about 20 hours after leaving home.
The next stage of my journey that day was a flight to Jaipur where a car would be waiting for me to drive to northern Rajasthan to the 17th century Alsisar Mahal (palace), now converted to a hotel, and still owned and operated by Abhimanyu, the Raja of Khetri.
However, after a four hour wait, the Jaipur flight was delayed a further two hours: plenty of time to meet new people and have lots of interesting chats.
Finally arriving in Jaipur at 6pm local time and nearly 28 hours since I left home, I met Bhajirath, my driver and companion for the next few days and we headed north for a four hour drive to the dusty village of Alsisar and the palace for a well deserved sleep in a very comfortable bed.

….. and now ready for some more Indian adventures.

Alsisar Mahal

Countdown to the 2019 Cloth and Stone Tour

Christmas has gone, New Years Eve is tomorrow, and then in the wee small hours of January 3, I fly out of Melbourne to Mumbai via a short stopover in Singapore. I choose Singapore Airlines because they leave at a reasonable hour (mostly) and arrive at a reasonable hour with short stopover times at Changi Airport.

For this tour, I have upgraded to Premium Economy which will give me extra leg room and a few perks like priority boarding, great food and champagne. I plan to drink just enough champagne (probably 2 glasses as it doesn’t take much of the stuff to make me sleepy) to help me make use of all that extra legroom to sleep soundly, as the next few days will be flurry of private pre-tour activity and research for a new tour I’m planning.

On arrival in Mumbai at the very reasonable hour of 10:35, I catch another flight to Jaipur (after a few hours hanging about the very beautiful new airport terminal), where a car and driver will be waiting for me to drive to the village of Alsisar in northern Rajasthan where I will stay at the magnificent Alsisar Mahal – a former 17th century palace.

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai

Photo credit: Alsisar Mahal

Photo credit: Alsisar Mahal

Living the royal lifestyle, yet working hard on my research, I will spend the next day with my car and driver traversing the towns and villages of this area known as Shekawati, seeking out the abandoned painted havelis (mansions) that the area is famous for.

History has it that in the 17th to 19th centuries, Marwari merchants constructed these grand havelis. Steeped in wealth and affluence, these merchants competed with each other building ever more grand edifices – homes, temples and step wells  – which were richly decorated both inside and outside with painted murals.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Now, most of the havelis are abandoned, their owners having moved to larger centres of trade like Mumbai. Some mansions have been destroyed, while others have had their murals painted over. I will be visiting in order to find some great examples to visit on the tour I am planning for late 2019.*

After my royal whirlwind, I return to Jaipur and then fly to Ahmedabad to have a free day before meeting my guests for The Cloth and Stone Tour 2019.

Stay tuned for more news from the road, and, I’m hoping, some great pics of my royal accommodation and the results of my research of the Shekawati region.

*The new tour, yet unnamed, will take in the Shekawati area as well as an Indus Valley Civilisation ruined city (about 4500 years old), some pre-historic painted caves, an elephant sanctuary in a village, the famous Rat Temple in Bikaner, a magnificent step well and lots more. 

Contact me if you would like to know more about this tour when planning is completed.
Or you could hit the ‘FOLLOW’ button at the top right of the page and updates will be delivered to your inbox automatically.

Ahmedabad declared World Heritage City

June 8, 2017
Ahmedabad, the starting point of our Cloth and Stone Tour to Gujarat, has just been declared India’s first World Heritage City by UNESCO.

The walled city of Ahmedabad believed to be founded by Ahmed Shah some 600 years ago has 26 structures protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, and hundreds of ‘pols’ (old city neighbourhoods) that capture the essence of community living.

The voting countries unanimously supported Ahmedabad citing a secular co-existence of Islamic, Hindu and Jain communities along with exemplary architecture of intricately carved wooden havelis dating back hundreds of years. The countries also recognised that the city was a cradle for India’s non-violent freedom struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi, who lived there from 1915 to 1930.

It will now join the 287 world heritage cities across the globe which includes Paris, Cairo and Edinburgh.

Take a virtual tour of the old city of Ahmedabad.
Click on any image to enlarge the gallery.
Also, check out this link >>>


Comparing apples with apples

Thinking of signing up for a Kasu Tour but want to make sure you’re getting the best deal?
Here are some things to think about when making comparisons with similar tours:

  • What is the total length of the tour?
  • What is the daily cost of the tour?
  • Maximum number of guests on the tour?
  • How many destinations/experiences are there in the tour?
  • What is the quality of the accommodation?
  • How many nights does the tour spend at each destination?
  • Method of transport: private vehicle or a mixture of public transport?
  • How many meals are included in the tour cost?
  • Are entry fees, safari fees, local guide fees, driver tips etc included in the cost?
  • Are there any discounts available?
  • Do you have the undivided attention of your Australian host for the entire tour?

At Kasu Tours, we feel confident that our apples shine brighter than the other apples on this list of comparisons.  What do you think?